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Figural Group: Raven Surmounted by Three Seated Figures

Arts of the Americas

Although the exact meaning of this sculpture is unknown, it may represent the first people joining Raven, a key figure in Haida oral history. There are many tales of Raven traveling throughout the land and water. He is said to have released daylight from a box, and he acts as both a benevolent being and a trickster, or mischievous being. Raven is believed to have created the Haida when he saw small people inside a beautiful clamshell and convinced them to join him. Here the long-haired figure in front may be a shaman, a priest who uses magic for curing the sick, divining the hidden, and controlling events. The figure at the back wears a hat crowned with chiefly rings and a frog emblem, indicators of the wearer’s important status.

Aunque el significado exacto de esta escultura se desconoce, puede representar a la primera gente uniéndose con Cuervo, una figura clave en la historia oral Haida. Existen muchas historias de Cuervo y sus viajes por mar y tierra. Se dice que fue él quien liberó la luz del día de una caja, y que actúa tanto como un ser benevolente y embaucador, o como un ser malicioso. Se cree que Cuervo creo a los Haida cuando vio gente diminuta dentro de una hermosa concha y los convenció de que se le unieran. Aquí, la figura de pelo largo que está enfrente puede ser un chamán, un sacerdote que usa magia para curar a los enfermos, adivinar lo oculto, y controlar acontecimientos. La figura que está detrás lleva un sombrero coronado por anillos de jefatura y el emblema de una rana, indicadores del importante estatus del usuario.
MEDIUM Argillite
  • Possible Place Made: Canada
  • DATES 1860–1880
    DIMENSIONS 10 x 15 1/2 x 3 3/4 in. (25.4 x 39.4 x 9.5 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    CREDIT LINE By exchange
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION An argillite carving of a bird on its back surmounted by three seated figures. It is stable and in good condition. The toes on the rear sitting figure seem to be intentionally undefined. The long hair on the front figure suggests that he is a Shaman. The 'pin dots' in the centers of the eyes on the boat show the carver used a compass to create the circular forms and if so this is unusual. The piece shows great action and movement and it thought to be one of the great argillite pieces by most scholars.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Haida. Figural Group: Raven Surmounted by Three Seated Figures, 1860–1880. Argillite, 10 x 15 1/2 x 3 3/4 in. (25.4 x 39.4 x 9.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, By exchange, 72.5.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 72.5.1_PS1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 72.5.1_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2005
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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